North Philly's gossipy, snap-happy Skorpion and Makael are an online sensation.
In a more recent episode, the two soberly react after discovering that a young fan of theirs won’t tell his friends he watches the show—because he doesn’t want to be thought of as gay.
“This is the big question,” Mclendon says to Simmons in the video. “You want so much to make this show, to have this show put on TV. But how successful do you think that will be if so many people out there don’t want to see that?”
“We will just have to break barriers,” Simmons says. “Because there’s a lot of times when people say no. But somebody’s gonna say yes.”
Crossing over, in fact, is uppermost in Simmons’ mind. He knows the show’s audience is mostly black, mostly teenage girls—with gay men making up a big chunk of the remainder.
“I know there’s more white people on YouTube than black,” he says. “I want them to subscribe to me, too.”
He’s off to a good start. The show’s most-seen video—about the Chris Brown-Rihanna brawl—has been viewed more than a million times. The duo’s YouTube channel has more than 8,000 subscribers, and episodes with even middling viewership still manage to attract hundreds of comments from the pair’s devoted fan base. Skorpion and Makael say Janet Jackson, Britney Spears, Jermaine Dupri and other celebrities have watched their videos. Indeed, one April episode featured a phone interview with Michelle Williams, formerly of Destiny’s Child.
That’s pretty heady stuff for a show that consists of one static webcam shot of the men talking to each other. But Skorpion and Makael’s following has grown to the point that Simmons’ 17-year-old nephew, Rich Smith, plans on launching a clothing line featuring catchphrases from the show.
“Everybody wants in the videos,” Smith says.
The show’s crossover appeal might be aided by its home setting. The pair grabs any spot—kitchen, living room, even bathroom—they can in the crowded confines of the house run by Simmons’ mother, Barbara Smith. The result is a steady din of background conversation and occasional cameos by family members. Simmons’ mother has even appeared (as “Mama Skorpion”) in several videos, invoking both Jesus and a healthy dose of profanity in warning young women not to let men abuse them.
“If you want to wake up with those damn fingers that you hit me with, you better keep your hands to yourself,” she growls.
Simmons, though, believes it’s celebrity gossip—not nosy family members—that will help him make it big. These days, his kitchen table is covered with books on how to earn money on the Internet. He wants more staying power than the “Numa Numa” guy or any of the other one-hit YouTube wonders.
“I’m going to be the next Perez Hilton,” boasts Simmons. “We don’t have a black Perez Hilton. And even if they hate you, they’ll still watch you.”
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